Each year the U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear certain cases, the subject of which, run the gamut—both criminal and civil. One of the cases it chose to take this year involves traffic stops and whether a dog-sniff search can be conducted without reasonable cause or whether it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Arguments were recently heard on the case.
The vehicle in the case was pulled over after swerving over the highway shoulder line and the driver received a ticket. Following the issuance of the ticket however, the vehicle was not allowed to leave. Instead it was detained for another seven to eight minutes while a dog sniff was conducted by a dog that arrived with a backup officer. The dogs provided probable cause for law enforcement to further search the vehicle and the discovery of methamphetamine.
It is unclear what happened to the individuals arrested for the drug crime but as is the case following many drug charges it is likely that they were incarcerated. Presumably, had they been allowed to leave following the issuance of the ticket, this would not have happened.
The outcome of this case is important not only for the people involved but others throughout the nation as well. This is because the court’s decision could have a bearing on anyone who in the future is pulled over for a traffic stop.
Regardless of how the high court rules, it is important that anyone facing drug charges takes them seriously. To try to avoid serious consequences it is a good idea to work with a lawyer.
Source: Scotusblog.com, "Argument analysis: What exactly is a "routine" traffic stop, and should a suspicionless dog sniff be part of it?," Rory Little, January 22, 2015